Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creating a New Frame of Reference

You all know how I work. I read something or I hear something, and my mind starts spinning a mile a minute and I have to get it out. This morning is another one of those times, so bear with me.

I was reading a blog and someone had written a guest post sharing a precious story about her 6 year old daughter requesting that her mom play the song Daylight by Maroon 5 saying that it was her favourite song, and then shared her interpretation of that song. She didn't like the morning because that mean she had to go to school, but she loved nighttime when her mom would tuck her in and snuggle with her.

Children make sense of their world by using their experience as a frame of reference. The nightly tuck-in routine became this six year old girl's point of reference - her source of comfort, her go-to place.

Of course, with my introspective nature, my mind is spiralling thinking about what I've used as my point of reference, and what I would like my frame of reference to be from here on out.

The first thing that pops into my mind when I think "Point of Reference" is my eating disorder. It's what I've used as a source of comfort for years. It provided me with a sense of security, and a feeling that I could actually be good at something. When things would get rough and scary in the real world, I'd retreat back to the familiar comforts of restricting, overexercising, and binging and purging. Even in treatment, I refused to fully release my grip on the eating disorder, because I still wanted it to be there as my Plan B.

My life experience has essentially consisted of long periods of disorder and chaos with short periods of respite. I've lived my life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it always does. Something always happens, and I crumble. This has been my frame of reference - my experience.

Now, it begs the question, what do I want my frame of reference to be?

I want to create a new frame of reference - a new set of experiences - that point me in the direction of life. I want to live based on a framework of love, security, and peace that comes from the Holy Spirit. Instead of allowing circumstances and situations to pull the rug out from under me, I want to be consistent - falling on my knees in worship. The Lord is my Deliverer. He is my Provider, my Shelter, my Strong Tower - and I want HIM to be my point of reference.

I want HIM to be what I measure my life experience against and base my actions around.

Practically, I've been thinking about what this looks like - and I think that it's just going to take practice, a lot of perspective shifts, and even more grace.

Firstly, I need to surrender my Plan B. This needs to happen, because as long as I'm holding on to the possibility of relapse, I'm preventing myself from experiencing the abundant life that comes when a life is fully committed to the things of God.

Second, I need to allow myself to try things that I've never done before because I've been afraid of the outcome. What is there to fear when God is on my side?

Third, I need to get my priorities straight. When I'm focused on myself and the things that I have to/can't do, I'm neglecting the big picture things. I need to prioritize early bedtimes so that I'm able to wake up early enough to start my day off right - dedicating my day to God. This month has been tremendously great in terms of quiet times. I'm going to sleep at 10pm and waking up at 7am, and I'm well-rested and alert and enjoying starting my day off with my Bible, my journal, and the Holy Spirit.

And finally, I need to continue to let other people speak life to me. I was not created to do life on my own, and I'm doing really good at seeking out accountability and being authentic with them. I'm actually really proud of how far I've come in this area.

So, all this to say, a paradigm shift is on it's way.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Does It Mean To Show Up?

So, I am THE master procrastinator. I know a lot of people try to claim that title, but I promise that it belongs to me. When I woke up this morning, I fully had the intention of getting to work right away on the few things I have to do for my internship today, and it's noon and I still haven't even opened up a document to start.

What has my method of procrastination been today? Well, allow me to tell you. I started on Facebook and read a daily reminder from Brave Girls Club, which made me think to go over to tumblr to search and see what the tag Brave Girls Club held, then I clicked on a blog which looked interesting and explored that for a few pages until I came across a TED talk video. I love TED Talks, so I decided, "What the heck!?" It was entitled "Lessons from the Mental Hospital" by Glennon Doyle Melton, and if you know me, you know why I find that title so fascinating. If you don't know me, it's because I'm a tad bit crazy myself.

It was honestly one of the most relatable TED Talks I've ever watched. So of course, what did I do next? I googled Glennon Doyle Melton and ended up on her website - She wrote a book called "Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts On Life Unarmed", and I listened to the portion of the audiobook that's offered for free on her website, and I loved it - which then sent me to Youtube to see what else she's spoken about and I watched a ton of videos of her speaking at various events and TV shows and whatnot. (Welcome to my life everyday. I find something interesting and it takes up half my day researching about it or watching videos or anything!)

One thing she talks about all the time is showing up. Part of her story is that she is a recovering bulimic, alcoholic, and addict and on Mother's Day 2002, she found out she was pregnant, and at that moment - she knew she had to stop running from life and just show up. She started showing up to life in whatever state she was in, and she realized how unbelievably "brutiful" life is. (That's a mix between brutal and beautiful, in case you were having trouble decoding that word...) Glennon is very into authenticity, and it was a breath of fresh air to hear her speak so candidly about so many of the questions I ask myself on a daily basis.

Now, she shows up at her computer to blog about all sorts of things. Her website has a following of 60 000 "monkees", she's written a book, and she speaks all over the place - sharing her story and what she's learned along the way about what it means to just show up as you are without all the "superhero capes" that people use to hide their true selves.

What she said really got me thinking about what it means for me to show up, personally, especially in the season of life that I'm in right now. Currently, I'm doing a summer internship at an organization called Amirah, living in NH and commuting to Mass three times a week, spending a lot of time with God, and fighting very hard to walk in victory over the issues I've been dealing with for years day after day. It's not an easy season.

Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE my internship, and I am SO very blessed by the family that I'm staying with for the summer. In that respect, this summer is probably the best summer I've had in a long while. I'm building relationships, crossing new things off my summer bucket list every day, and gaining experience doing something that I truly enjoy. The blessings that God has poured out on my life are incredible, and although my summer looks nothing like I originally thought it would, it is so much better than anything I ever could have planned for myself.

However, things have been far from easy when it comes to dealing with the eating disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. Close to the end of the school year, I had a mini-meltdown, and now I'm in the process of regaining my footing. When I went home and my living situation for the summer fell through and I thought I'd have to stay at home for the summer, I allowed myself to fall into the familiar pattern of ED behaviours that always follows shortly after things that I have planned go awry. It was only a short time this time, because I ended up finding a place to stay and coming back.

The thing is, that pattern of lapsing into old behaviours at home needs to change. A close sister-friend called me out when I was at home, and pointed out to me that the choices and actions that I make now are going to affect my future. It's not just a short term thing - I'm setting myself up to continue the pattern of slipping back into behaviours that fit like a glove whenever times get tough, and that doesn't just affect me. It affects my future spouse, my family, my friends, the people that I am going to be ministering to.

Sometimes, life just feels so hard. Yes, God is faithful. Yes, His Word is true. Yes, He is constant. But life is still hard, and I am of the opinion that life is supposed to be hard. Loneliness is meant to propel us towards people and teach us to invest in relationships. Fear teaches us to trust that God is able. I could go on and on.

So, now...what does it mean for me to show up in this season when things are good, but still incredibly difficult?

I think it means that I get out of bed every day and spend time in the Word and journaling. It means that I show up at each meal and be present. It means that I engage in meaningful discussions about life-giving topics. It means that when I'm feeling depressed and anxious, I talk about it. I ask for prayer. I don't allow my pride to silence me in the times where I need to be humble. It means that I follow through with adding the extra snack. To show up means that I acknowledge where I'm at and let that be okay - while still moving forward in a way that is going to be challenging in a supported environment.

It's high time that I start acknowledging my feelings instead of pushing them down and pretending they don't exist or that I'm okay all the time. That caught up to me and I felt like I was drowning in emotions that I didn't know how to express. So now, I start showing up to feel my emotions. I start showing up when the last thing I want to do is get out of bed and face the world.

Joyce Meyer says that feelings are fickle, and I do agree. Feelings ARE fickle. In the past, however, I have used that as an excuse to deny that my feelings are valid, to essentially say that feelings are bad and I should never allow myself to feel them. I'm learning that that's not the case though. Yeah, I probably shouldn't make decisions based on my emotions, nor should I allow my emotions to dictate my entire life. But to experience my emotions and acknowledge that my feelings are present? That is perfectly okay, and in reality, it's a VERY healthy thing to do.

So today, I'm choosing to show up. I'm choosing to show up and feel my emotions. I'm choosing to show up and eat that extra snack. I'm choosing to show up and do the next right thing. For now? That's a great starting place.
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